I Love to See You Smile is indeed another piano trio recording in a season obviously focused on jazz trios. But this one is different. Oh, you might think, I always say that this particular jazz trio or that particular jazz trio is different, but this time it’s true. Why? Well it’s from the 3D Jazz Trio. So? Well, the “D” in “3D” stands for diva, and really I hate bringing that up. Allow me to elaborate.
The first time I reviewed a title from the 3D consortium–the DIVA Jazz label records all sorts of ensembles, from this piano trio to an entire big band orchestra–I made a point of complaining about the emphasis on the diva part, that we should review these Women in Jazz like any other talented musicians and that there should not be qualifiers that suggest “they’re really good, for…you know.” The 3D Jazz Trio’s new CD, I Love to See You Smile, makes an even better case for a moratorium on said qualifiers–in a sea of piano trio recordings this spring I found this album to be crisp, exciting and electric. It’s such a strong work, characterized by joy and swing.
The 3D Jazz Trio consists of pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Amy Shook (no relation to Eric) and drummer Sherrie Maricle. These three are described as “the closest of friends,” and they strive to make that clear in their performances. Maricle always stands out–she also plays in Five Play, the quintet that records for DIVA Jazz, as well as the Diva Jazz Orchestra. She’s the musical director of all three, the leader, and her arrangements possess the same energy and fun as her drumming style. Both Warren and Shook match Maricle’s sheer creativity with a strong sense of melody and clarity. They are unified in their delivery, more so than most trios.
Back to this diva matter. I want to declare something like “I’ll never bring up that all of the DIVA Jazz performers are women,” but I’m pretty sure I’m missing the point. Jazz, even contemporary jazz, is still marked by tradition. The median age of a jazz fan in the US is probably as high as the median age for a classical music fan in the US. The 3D Jazz Trio, and everyone associated with DIVA Jazz, feels it’s important to make that distinction, that they can play as good as the boys. While the younger, “woke” generations might wince at that a little, those aren’t the people who are really into jazz. But to the ever-dwindling jazz fan base in this country, these three women can play brilliantly. Still, there’s a part of me that says you should still forget about all this and just bask in these ebullient tunes.